Our 2nd Chance to Love a Second

Follow us on our adoption journey for a sibling for Jayden!

Decisions, Decisions

Note: This is the second in a series of posts telling where we are headed in our adoption journey from here.  Missed the first? Go here…

If you had told me two and a half years ago, when we first started tossing the idea around about going through the adoption process again, that we would still be a family of three now in 2016, I’d be in disbelief.  I wouldn’t find it impossible to believe, but still…  This wasn’t how things were supposed to be…

And so, almost two and a half years later, we find ourselves at a point where we need to make a decision in how we want to move forward.  If I envision that decision as a pie, and each different option as an individual slice, there are a lot of slices in that pie!  Some slices, though, are not quite as appealing as others, though.

 

 

What really was clear to us as we sat down and talked was that we needed to look beyond what we thought was the original plan for our second adoption.  Which maybe means developing a new plan.  Which, of course, is a little scary, especially when it means that perhaps, *gulp* others might find the original plan a waste of 2 years.

Here are some of the different options we have considered as we move forward:

  • Calling it quits.  Yes.  Ending our attempts is definitely an option.  We’ve talked about it.  And, while there are things about this particular journey that have our energy wiped out, we just aren’t quite ready to throw in the towel yet.
  • Continuing with our agency.  This has 2 options: advertising with them (at a significant fee) or independently.  Either way, if there would be a match, we’d use their advisement as we proceed, at an additional significant agency fee.  These are options we are keeping on the table for now.
  • Foster-to-Adopt.  I’ll try to keep this explanation as brief as possible.  We attended an informational session on this in the fall.  We want to keep our son as the oldest child in our family.  To do that, it means accepting quite a large possibility (at least with the agency with whom we met and that particular age) that our home becomes a revolving door for foster placements until a permanent placement comes along.  This is one of those options that we are tabling for now, but may return to later.  Fostering can be a hot button topic within adoption circles.  Please don’t judge us for that decision.  The decision was quite an educated one and far more complicated than my overly simplified explanation provided here.
  • International adoption.  This one probably comes out of nowhere to anyone who has talked with us about adoption.  It kind of comes out of nowhere for us, too.  But it’s a choice that we are looking at.  And when you begin to look at international adoption, there’s a whole rabbit hole to follow in terms of the numbers of options within it.
  • Embryo Adoption.  I nearly forgot about this option when I first wrote this post.  In fact, I had to go back and add it because I had forgotten that we had discussed it.  If you aren’t familiar with embryo adoption, it is where you “adopt” unused embryos from couples who have gone through and are finished with IVF treatments.  (Some couples are so successful with IVF that they end up with one or a dozen embryos that have been preserved and unused.)  This option begins as a traditional adoption begins, with the home study and a match with the biological parents.  However, once a match has occurred, legally, it is viewed more as a “transfer of property” when the embryos are given to the adoptive couple.  From there, fertility procedures, including drugs, are done for a (hopefully) successful embryo transfer and pregnancy.  It, of course, like all other fertility procedures, is not guaranteed to be successful.  After going through the time that we did with the pills, prodding, and daily injections with our own fertility procedures before our first adoption, I’m just not sure we can do that again.

So, that’s what we’ve been looking at.  To complicate things a little bit further, we are hoping to move by the end of the year.  So, from a financial standpoint, and a home study standpoint, as well as a time-in-our-life standpoint, that makes things a little more challenging.

So, what have we decided?  More in upcoming posts on our decisions, emotions, and ambiguity…

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Snow…

Note: This is the first in a series of posts telling where we are headed in our adoption journey from here.

There’s something about all of this snow that has been reminding me of the last two matches that we’ve had with birth families that have not gone as we had hoped they would have.  With one of those mothers, she lived deep in the south and loved snow, but of course, never got any.  I remember texting her about our first snow coming late in the fall, promising her a few pictures when we came to visit to meet her for the first time.  That meeting never came and we can only trust that God placed us in her life at that time for a reason unknown to us.

Image credit: http://mrg.bz/edZVil

Our second match began when we were stuck at home with snow and ice while our little guy also had pneumonia and croup and strep throat all at the same time (talk about a nice trifecta, right?).  So we spent quite a bit of time snuggled up on the couch, looking out on the snow, emailing back and forth with that birth family before meeting them.  Again, that match didn’t work, and we trusted when we turned away, as hard as it was, that God had other plans.

Image credit: http://mrg.bz/fPy5lZ

Since April of last year, we haven’t had any other matches.  We’ve tried some things on our own, in addition to the agency’s efforts.  But we’ve reached a point in our journey where we’ve come to that proverbial fork in the road and are trying to discern which path to take.

We have continued to try to “advertise” for ourselves on other adoption sites and through our own Facebook and adoption pages.  However, the adoption site was getting to be too costly for the low number of hits we were getting, so we discontinued that at the beginning of December.

We explored a possible match through American Adoptions, but the additional costs would have run us over $20,000 in just over a month.  Yikes.

In the meantime, we explored the foster-to-adopt route by attending an informational session.  I also started a post-graduate program in counseling that helped to give my brain a little distance away from obsessing so much over the whole adoption thing, which has been helpful.

So we have really been spending some time praying, thinking, reflecting on where we want to go from here.  Our contract with our agency was up on February 1, so that date was looming over us for the last few months.  Basically, what that means is that the fees that we paid for advertising and to be represented by the agency had “expired.”  If we wanted to continue with them, we could pay an additional advertising fee per month and then an additional agency fee if a match occurred.  And if we don’t continue with them, then what?

More to come in our next posts, where I’ll let you in on some options, emotions, and ambiguity…

Read the next post here…

 

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Wendy’s Adoption Cups

National Adoption Awareness Month originally was started to draw attention to the more than 108,000 kids waiting in the foster system to be adopted.  You can read more about the history of the month-long celebration here.  The Dave Thomas Foundation (yeah, I’m talking about the Wendy’s Dave Thomas) is a non-profit that provides grants to raise awareness and bring attention to those children in foster care.

Wendy’s has released some unique cups in the past to raise awareness about adoption.  Currently, they’ve got some with kids’ drawings on them, which make them instantly cuter, in my humble opinion!  But, what’s even cooler, is that on their site, they have animated the drawings.  These drawings are from kids who were in foster care, but now have been adopted.  The drawings depict an experience with their new family.  Here’s Olivia’s:

Doug and I recently explored the possibility of a foster-to-adopt program.  I’ll give you all an update later this month on where we are in our process.

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A teacher’s Guide to Introducing Adoption in to the Classroom in 4 Easy Steps!

As a teacher who also happens to be a mom-by-adoption, I thought I might share a few posts this month relating to how to approach adoption within a classroom setting.  First up is this post from Adoptions From The Heart that deals with adoption in the classroom in general.  I also have some resources on great books to share and alternatives to assignments that might be challenging to some adoptees.

Love Builds Families

2 different kinds of strengthThe start of a new school year means many different things for families, like new classmates, new teachers, lunches, hectic schedules, homework assignments and school projects. With all of these changes, some adoptive parents can also experience a little concern when sending their child off to school. Sometimes children are given assignments that require personal information, such as family tree projects, tracing your family heritage, bringing in baby pictures, or timeline projects. For an adopted child, many of these common school assignments may cause them to feel left out and uncomfortable. Many adoptive parents have given their children the tools at home to answer difficult questions about adoption, but as teachers it is equally as important to educate the entire class on adoption.

Before you start: 

Before you start introducing adoption into the classroom, it is important that you, as a teacher, understand positive adoption language. As many of us know…

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“Transracial” as It Relates to Adoption

Image credit: http://mrg.bz/Vy5hZf

Image credit: http://mrg.bz/Vy5hZf

It seems that we have reached another time in our nation’s history where race and heightened tensions are at the top of headlines and conversations.  As I write that introductory sentence, I find myself saddened that it takes violent events and injustices to make the ongoing racial tensions that we experience in our country to remind those of us who have benefited from White Privilege that racism and marginalization of individuals of color continues to go on.  For them, they are all too aware of it every day; for me, it is easy to continue on with my life without it affecting my daily routine.

Almost nonchalantly thrown in amongst media reports of Baltimore riots, Caitlyn Jenner’s transgender identity, and the controversy surrounding Rachel Dolezal’s NAACP resignation in Spokane, Washington, was the term “transracial” that many used.  The term was used to refer to Dolezal’s racial identity as black while being born white.

Except that transracial has a very sacred definition to members of the adoption community, particularly to those who are part of a transracial adoption.  In “An Open Letter: Why Co-opting ‘Transracial’ in the Case of Rachel Dolezal is Problematic,” the collective group of authors writes:

Transracial is a term that has long since been defined as the adoption of a child that is of a different race than the adoptive parents. The term most often refers to children of color adopted by white families in the Global North, and has been extensively examined and documented for more than 50 years by academics and members of the adoption triad: adoptees, birthparents, and adoptive parents.

Part of our intent when creating this blog at the beginning of our adoption process was not just to update others on where we are in the process.  It was also to provide a place to give others a chance to become more enlightened and educated about the world of adoption.  This is a perfect time to introduce the concept of the word, “transracial” to those that might not be aware of its definition.

If you are looking for a great starter list of children’s books that features transracial adoption, this mom (who also happens to be a mom by transracial adoption) has just added a list to her blog that is a great start!  Check it out!

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August Update

Image credit: http://mrg.bz/oCFEAV

Image credit: http://mrg.bz/oCFEAV

Time for an update on the adoption happenings…Not much new to report on the adoption front here.  We had one message that came to us through our Parent Profile on Adoption.com from someone with very broken English looking for someone to “accept a 6 year old blond girl, healthy, smart and cute, for adoption.”  As we feel it is important for J to remain the oldest child, I politely declined the woman’s request, whether it was a legitimate one or not.

We also received an email from our agency last week saying that they had a contact with an attorney/agency in Florida who was looking for adoptive families for very immediate and difficult to place situations, and were we interested in having our profile passed along.  Yes, we were, but the catch is that there would most likely be additional hefty agency fees for the Florida agency, in addition to birth mother living expenses to pay.  So we responded by saying that we were interested in learning more, but the costs would definitely be limiting factors for us.  She got back to us and said that the contact person was on vacation until this week, so I’ll send another email soon to see if she has heard anything further.

The first of August marked our 18 month wait mark.  Not a milestone we really wanted to reach.  But one that is bringing up the inevitable conversation among the two of us: “What next?”  We have so many unanswered questions, so many what-if’s, and so many doubts right now.

How much longer do we continue on this path we are on, waiting?  Do we switch to another agency and continue to wait for a newborn?  Do we explore a foster-to-adopt route?  Are we even meant to be parents to two?  If this adoption never happens, what do we do with the money that we have fundraised?  I frequently (as in daily) check out available situations through American Adoptions.  They post adoption situations that didn’t match with any of their waiting families.  I know that there are available situations out there and a few agencies that I have heard are matching families a bit faster than our agency.  But we just are financially not able to swing these situations and/or switch agencies right now.  I truly didn’t like fundraising when we did it at the beginning of our search, nor was it wildly successful (I don’t think we were good at it), so I’m not crazy about the idea.

We are truly at a loss right now for what to do.  Any ideas we haven’t thought of?  We’d like to hear them.  And we’d welcome your prayers for wisdom and clarity right now as we muddle through this.

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While We Wait: Our Week Apart

I mentioned in this post that I’d also be featuring some regular posts about what keeps us busy besides waiting and praying for an adoption match.  As I was thinking about our week last week, I realized something.  With both Doug and me working in schools, we pretty much spend most of our ENTIRE summers together, but last week was the first time that the 3 of us weren’t all together in the summer since we became a family of three.

Doug was off last week in Detroit, helping to chaperone a youth trip through our church to the ELCA national youth gathering.  Which left me on my own with J for the entire week.  Now, I know that plenty of couples do this all the time, where one spouse leaves on business or something like that, while the other is home with the kid or kids.  I’ve never been on my own.  I was a little nervous.  So…let’s do the math here…Doug was gone for 6 nights, helping to supervise 17 high school youth with 2 other adults.  I was home alone for 6 nights with 1 four-year-old.  We are not sure who was more tired at the end of the 7 days, but we both survived.

Here are our weeks, summarized in photos and a few words of our own:

Lisa’s Week:

My plan was to keep busy the entire week.  Perhaps I overplanned a bit too many things, but I’d rather have it that way.  I find with J that we end up with behavior snafu’s when we are bored at home.  So here was our week, along with photos from some of the things we did:

Special breakfast out with Mommy…Crayola Experience in Easton, PA, with friends…Trip to the library to pick out books and make a special craft…Time to play in the mud…Tub time with colored water to wash off mud…Special hike and picnic along Susquehanna River with grandparents…Visit to the park…Sleepover with Aunt K…Quick exit in morning when sleepover did not go as well as planned…Made volcano in sandbox with vinegar and baking soda over and over and over and over…Using Mommy’s old Fisher-Price record player to listen to stories…Out for ice cream twice…

Doug’s Week:

My week started with an early morning meeting of all the kids at a nearby church (there were two groups of us that split a bus), followed by a long, but actually very calm bus ride. When we arrived at our hotel, which also happened to be the tallest building in Detroit, and got settled in, it was time to go for a walk around the city and get some dinner. We settled on American Coney Dog, which happens to be one of the best hot dogs in America. Not a bad start to the trip.

Our next day and a half consisted of touring various sites around Detroit, spending some time on Belle Isle swimming (at least for the kids, because it was cold out!), and celebrating a birthday at the Hard Rock Cafe. Now it was time for us to begin the ELCA youth gathering.

The theme for the event this year was “Rise Up,” and we certainly did through various activities and gatherings the next couple of days. Each morning started with a 6AM wakeup for me, and then I proceeded to visit the Cobo Center to give blood and participate in a number of religious activities, spent time clearing an entire area of trees and debris for a park, and visited with our bishop. Every evening was finished with a gathering of all 30,000 people at Ford Field to hear speakers and some great music performances. The nights always ended late, of course.

All I can say is that it was totally worth it, and created some great memories. I was excited, though, to get back to Lisa and J on Sunday night, even though I had to wait until Monday morning to see J again.

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About Open Adoption

How could I possibly love

One of the things that I mentioned that I’d be doing as I tried to pick up communicating through this blog again was to feature our agency a bit and show some of what they do.  One of the things that they maintain is a blog through their website.  I like to occasionally stop by their blog to see what they’ve added because it has content that is from both an adoptive and birth parent perspective.

One of the posts that they did about a year ago was about open adoption.  It helps others to understand what open adoption can look like and why it is so beneficial to have and maintain and open relationship.  When we began our journey through adoption years ago, there were some who didn’t understand what open adoption was and especially had a difficult time understanding that it was actually a positive thing.

Adoption has changed so much over the last several decades.  Some might find it hard to believe that 99% of the adoptions that our agency handles are open adoptions.  If you aren’t familiar with the many ways in which open adoption can be defined, I’d encourage you to take a look at their post on open adoption.  It’s a quick read!

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Our Wait Continues…

We’ve been pretty absent from here lately.  I think no updates since Christmas.  So sorry.  Unfortunately, it’s not been because we’ve been busy with a baby.  Here’s what we are up to:

The plan this summer is to approach our adoption “search” with a new approach and renewed energy.  So we are regularly adding to our Facebook page with posts from our adoption profile blog.  These posts are being centered around an adoption photo challenge that will show and tell a little more about who we are.  I’m pretty excited about it!  Here’s our first photo from our first post:

Week 1 Us

On this blog that you are on right now, which gives updates on our adoption journey, we plan to cycle posts between general updates on what’s been going on in the process, sharing with you another adoption site or blog so that you can see other perspectives, linking up to posts from our agency, and also sharing with you what kinds of things we are up to as a family when we are not focusing on our wait (there is life outside of our wait!).

Since we’ve not been on here since Christmas, I wanted to let you know a little about what’s gone on since then.  We had a pretty promising match in early Spring.  For close to a month, we thought we were going to have a 5 month old baby girl home with us just in time for Easter weekend.  Things were quick and intensely emotional.  For a while we spent a lot of time simply trying to flesh out whether there were other intentions with the potential birth family outside of placement of their daughter.  We even questioned whether there was actually a baby that existed.  We worked closely with our agency as we maintained contact with the family on our own (the contact came through our Parent Profiles site), but even so, we were forced to sever contact with them right before Easter weekend for a variety of ethical and legal reasons.

It was an emotionally difficult time for us.  I would definitely say that it was more difficult than the first disruption we experienced in November.  Since then, we’ve known of a few times that our profile book has gone out through our agency.  But we haven’t had any matches resulting from them.

We are hopeful that some of these new ways that we are trying to reach out will help to put us in contact us with the birth family we are meant to be with!  In the meantime, you can help by checking out our Facebook page, and liking it (by clicking the LIKE button at the top of the page that is on the rectangular photo).  And then after you’ve liked it, ask your friends to like it too!

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And the winner is…

We launched the Giving Tree Fundraiser last month. Although we will gladly take additional ornament orders, as there are several ornaments remaining, yesterday was the final day to purchase so that you would have a chance to be entered into a drawing for an Amazon gift card. The numbered ornament purchased earned you that many entries into the drawing.

This evening, after cutting MANY tiny typed numbers, we held the drawing. So…..the winner is…..

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#25!!!!!

Many thanks again to all of you who purchased an ornament, to those who helped to make the ornaments, and to those who shared this fundraiser with other family and friends! We greatly appreciate your generosity.

If you ordered an ornament in the last week or so and have not received it, it will be on its way in the next day or two. We still have a few more to get over to the post office to mail out.

If you are still interested in financially supporting us, you can still purchase an ornament, order coffee through Just Love, or make a tax-deductible donation to our AdoptTogether site.

As always, we appreciate, more than anything else, your positive thoughts and prayers. And also your help in liking and sharing our Facebook page with your own friends is much appreciated.

Have a blessed Christmas!

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